Knitting designer series: Life is too short

by kath_red on November 1, 2012

in Guest series Knitting 2012, knitting+crochet+yarn

Knitting designer series:  I invited a few of my favourite knitwear designers to discuss their design process and inspiration and to share some tips and ideas too. 

Solenn Couix-Loarer is a French designer who lives in Rennes (Brittany) with her husband and two little boys. She publishes knitting patterns in French and English (Ravelry link) and is working on the launch of a brand of knitting yarn made of locally sourced wool which will be available this autumn. You can follow her adventures on her blog (in French), de rerum natura.

Thank you Kathreen for this invitation!

I wanted to learn to knit a few years ago for the pleasure of touching beautiful materials and turn them into something. Something different and personal. Something that will last. Something sweet, sensual and simple. Something that gives me as much pleasure to conceive, make, wear or offer.

I remember very well when I discovered that with thread and needles I could virtually transform any simple sketch into a knitted object. On graph paper I drew a silhouette of a fish that I simply knitted by replacing each square by a stitch. An hour later, I was holding in my hands a small soft fish and a new world opened up to me! There is something magical about slowly seeing a thought transforming into an object and then seeing it coming to life in the hands of other knitters. What a joy to discover, on Ravelry, babies around the world wearing my little cardigan Korrigan!

When I imagine a model, I particularly like associating motifs, sometimes classic, to more innovative techniques to create clothing that is stimulating to knit and comfy to wear. This modern retro style
is very dear to me. For example, for the pullover Lancelot, I worked from a traditional cable pattern that I slightly redesigned to give more lightness and that I associated with ribs and short-rows for shaping the neckline. The raglan sleeves, the buttons on the shoulder and the seamless build give a much more sporty and modern look to the classic Irish pullover and turn boys into very cute little knights!

Sometimes it is the discovery of a new technique that creates the desire for a new project. For the cardigan Artichaut, the starting point was some tests to line a garter stitch border with slipped stitches. I realized that when I was associating this border with increases on the stockinnette part, a natural curve was created (which didn’t suit me at all for what I had planned to do!). Rather than trying to cover with blocking the gap between the border and the rest of the fabric, I tried instead to accentuate the curvature by doubling the increases. To my delight, I got a nice hemline very surprising to make since it gives the impression to create itself!

I then had fun highlighting these smooth and modern lines, imagining short sleeves shaping with twisted stitches and a bottom edge in one piece in order to preserve the curves. Associated with a very classic simple seed stitch, these techniques are actually quite simple and rather fun to make, and helped to create a little bolero that embodies exactly what I love designing and knitting.

While it is very exciting to draw for adults, I especially like to imagine models for children because knitting for them is for me a very special way to surround them with our love and preserve them from
global consumption. When my boy tells me very seriously that he prefers pullovers that I knit because they are softer, first my heart melts a little — and then I tell myself that this feeling of softness comes probably not only from the quality of the wool, but also from all the thoughts of kindness and comfort put into it while being slowly and tenderly knitted for him. The idea that my little boy grows up keeping this value of crafted things pleases me enormously.

And then (very objectively of course…), how beautiful they are in their little princes clothes!

So obviously, they grow too fast, they get dirty even faster and it is not difficult for acrylic sweaters made in China to be cheaper, but I think life is just too short not to enjoy these little joys!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Suzanne November 1, 2012 at 8:52 am

Thank you for the introduction to a great designer. Off to look at her work on Ravelry I go.

2 Deepa November 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I love your concluding comment. Truly, life is too short to not make time for the process of hand knitting a sweater (or hat, scarf, mittens) for a beloved child. I have saved every handmade item of my kids, made by me as well as by others. Someday they will look at them and cherish their significance. For now, the mittens and sweaters are pilling from daily wear, and that is a beautiful thing!

3 Dace November 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Adore the little bolero and its charming development, very talented lady from Rennes – and I have been there!

4 Alverdine November 4, 2012 at 5:17 am

That last little cardi with the subtle rainbow pattern is just darling. I want a grown-up sized one! :)

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